Tag Archives: the last dragon

Vanity, Tearing Up the Neon in Seventh Heaven

If you haven’t seen Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon, stop reading this, go to Netflix, and educate yourself. I’m not kidding, Go. GO NOW.

OK, now that you’ve seen the finest example of Berry Gordy producing a kung fu musical set in Harlem,  we can pay proper homage to our dearly departed Vanity.

Vanity’s one of many women who fall into the “Prince protege” category, and she’s not much different than the rest. She was stunning, moderately talented, had legs that ended somewhere around her neck, and performed in a movie that’s adored by those of us who watched it to tatters in the 80s, and little understood by pretty much everyone else.

I was always more of a “Last Dragon” girl than a “Purple Rain” girl–probably because my mom nearly drove off the road once when she actually heard the lyrics to “Erotic City” and we were never allowed to watch it, and my dad loved both “Shogun” and Bruce Lee, so there you go.

“Purple Rain” may have had Morris Day, but “The Last Dragon” had Shonuff. It also featured the line “Directa your feetsa to Daddy Green’s Pizza,” not to mention Faith Prince, who sang a series of hilariously bad music videos, including one called “Dirty Books,” which I thought until just now was actually called “Dirty Bugs.”

But we’re not talking about all that. We’re talking about Vanity, she who had absolutely  perfect skin, sculpted cheekbones, dancer’s legs, amazing hair, and a stunning smile. Her performances were all completely over-the-top, tempered with a comfortable magnetism that came through in every fabulous roll of her perfectly eyelined-eyes, every arch of her flawless eyebrows, every long-fingered Tina-Turner-like point at the camera. The concept that she hosted “Soul Train” was so convincing, I was always bummed she never actually had her own live dance show.

Alas, despite her magnetism and beauty (or because of it?), the 90s were not kind to her, seeing her through the crack addiction and subsequent kidney failure that eventually killed her a few days ago.

I hope your heaven is as amazing as Seventh Heaven was, and I hope you meet the Master in all his golden glory.

Friday Morning Videos: The Glow

Yesterday morning, I awoke at 7 AM, wide awake, and realized something profound: for the third day in a row, no toddlers had awoken me in the night. And I’d gone to sleep at 10 PM. This meant one of two things: either I could get up and go to work early, or I could actually use the gym membership that had been languishing for two months.

Oh, sure: I’d been to the JCC once a week, to get Eliza swimming with other kids. And we’d used it a few times for the playroom. But I had yet to utilize the $35-a-month CenterFit Platinum membership I bought for myself, which allowed me into the 18-and-over locker room. It’s like first class for gym-goers.

On this morning, I had no more excuses, and opted for the gym. And, it turns out, the gym has just been waiting for me to show up. It’s been just sitting there, looking at the door every time it opens, thinking, “Dang it! That’s not Jody! I have all these THINGS just for her, and she’s not coming!”

I have a labral tear in my hip, which sounds much worse and much dirtier than it actually is. My physical therapist prescribed the exercise bike to me, which instantly made me think, “Oh, yippee. The best aerobic exercise for me is the one that’s lobe-splittingly boring.” But… the JCC knew this about me. And it was waiting with an exercise bike that has a built-in video game. Like with steering and gear changes and other cyclists, and a landscape that could be Cambodia, or maybe Peru, and every once in awhile the geeks that wrote the software–because, let’s face it, if it’s got a computer chip it crossed the desk of a geek at some point–programmed in little supportive messages. Like “Keep going!” and “You’re doing great!” and also “Never give up! Never surrender!” and “Do or do not. There is no try!”

My exercise bike quoted “Galaxy Quest” and Yoda to me.

Never give up. Never surrender.

Never give up. Never surrender.

After working up a good sweat on the bike, I headed downstairs to the weight room. Allow me to interrupt myself and say that the median age of JCC clientele is about 58, and that’s including all the toddlers taking classes. It’s kind of demoralizing for a 37-year-old woman who once ran a half marathon: dude, she’s in better shape than me, and she probably only has one unreplaced joint in her body. That said, I think I fit right in, as the coffee I’d had pre-workout was now beginning to repeat on me in a rather painful way.

So I figured, at this point, I’ll do my hip exercises, lift a few dumbbells to work my biceps and triceps, and head back. “Only in My Dreams” played during my hip exercises, which cracked me up, especially because the two guys under 50 were totally big tattooed dudes spotting each other on the benches, and I just know one of them was silently jamming in his head.

Then, halfway through a tricep exercise, this song came on.

The music couldn’t have motivated me more had it been “You’re the Best Around.” I’d never heard any song from “Barry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” in the gym, no less the “The Glow,” which, in a brilliant 80s twist, is a preparation montage including montages from other movies. (FYI, this clip is a montage of clips from the movie, but the actual song starts the way it shows here.)

It’s a meta-montage, powered by Bruce Lee, Daddy Green’s Pizza, and Barry Gordy, and as a result, I now feel pleasantly sore, endorphins are high, and I could totally kick Shonuff’s ass.

** Yes, I will be doing an in-depth “Barry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” post.